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The things you pick up.

YearsZM3 and years ago, at a small conference in Bamberg that a colleague of mine organised, I met with a few very interesting and very nice ladies. And with one of them, I somehow got to talking about buttons.

That was not so long after I had made a little hood with buttons after Textiles and Clothing, and I had made my buttons just like Crowfoot suggests: Cut a circle, pull it together by sewing along the edge, maybe stuff it with cloth and strengthen it by sewing through it in circles. That did work, but was somehow awkward, and it took quite a long time to do, and left the cut edges of the button quite exposed on the underside.

And Véronique Montembault then told me about a different method, one that she had reconstructed and now used for her cloth buttons: Cut a square of cloth, fold the corners in and fasten them with a few stitches; then fold the corners in again and fasten them; then fold the corners in again. The last fold-and-pull action tightens the button into a roundish shape; if there are still slight corners left, I stitch into them, pull the thread across the underside of the button and stitch into the next protruding bit. With soft fabric, it sometimes helps to make the button nice and firm to stuff a bit extra material into it before folding corners in the second time, but with firm fabric, just the square is enough. The cloth bits for this method are easy to cut out, do not waste fabric, make lovely little buttons in very little time, and all the cut edges of the fabric bits are hidden inside the button where they can’t fray at all.

I did not use that knowledge about how to make buttons differently for years – but now I’ve made a heap of cloth buttons for the Hartenstein garments, and with every button, I felt really glad that I had been to that conference and met with somebody who gave me that little gem of knowledge (she demonstrated with a dark red paper napkin, by the way) that made my life so much easier now and button-making so enjoyable. And now I’m passing it on.

Cut a square out of your button-making fabric; try 3 cm side length for a smaller button, 4 cm for a large one. Thread a needle with thread, make a knot on the end of the thread and stitch through all four corners of the square, front to back, close to the edges and once more through the first corner; pull gently on the thread to bring them together. Now you can push them down onto the middle of the square. I now stitch a small circle around the middle of the now smaller square, to hold the corners down and strengthen the button top. Now stitch through the four new corners again (all four and the first one a second time) and pull together; this gives you a little pyramid shape, or something resembling a flower with four petals. I fix the middle by stitching just once through the button top and back.
Now the final fold. Like before, stitch through the four corners and the first on a second time. Try to squash the button into a rounded button-form with one hand and pull on the sewing thread with the other hand, making the button nice and tight. Stitch into all bits that stick out on the round and pull them together by criss-cross-stitching on the base of the button. When I’m content, I just stitch through the button to the button-top and back again once and then snip the thread.

And that’s all there is to a folded button from a square bit of fabric. Enjoy!

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4 Responses to The things you pick up.

  1. Alena says:

    Thanks so much for sharing! Do you think you could post pictures?

  2. Thanks! I agree, photos would help…

  3. oops, you are already ahead of me. Great video!

  4. 'Keta says:

    GENIUS! This is so much easier than the circle method and with easily-frayed fabric a whole lot safer. I don't relish the idea of remaking buttons because the exposed edges frayed – now they can't! Thank you for sharing – I'm so glad I found you.

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